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  • Writer's pictureAmanda Pike

My Number One Tool

Thoughts on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Why It's My Number One Tool

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is an evidence-based therapeutic approach that focuses on the connection between thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. Throughout my 25+ years of practice, I have consistently found CBT to be an incredibly helpful tool when assessing my clients' current functioning.

CBT aids both the client and myself in understanding the intricate relationship between their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. I pay close attention to how my clients label their situations, as it often provides valuable insight into their thought processes. Labeling, in my experience, is easier for individuals to identify compared to pinpointing specific thoughts or cognitions.

The work begins by identifying and challenging negative automatic thoughts. The initial step involves assisting my clients in recognizing how their thinking patterns are negatively impacting their lives. The ultimate goal is to challenge unhelpful thinking and shift towards a more positive pattern of thought. Understanding that transitioning from negative to positive thinking can be overwhelming, I often guide my clients to start by moving from negative to neutral thinking. Witnessing their relief when they take this first step is truly gratifying.

From there, we delve into the realm of emotions. I view emotions as a warning system, providing insights into what is transpiring in my clients' lives. Emotions are often easier to identify than thoughts. For instance, anger is commonly associated with a violation of boundaries, whether real or perceived. By utilizing CBT, we explore these emotions further, examining the who, what, when, and where. Although emotions can be intimidating, I consider them to be our greatest tool for guiding us towards necessary changes.

Behavioral change then becomes the focus. Many clients engage in unhelpful actions when they first seek therapy, such as addictions, distractions, avoidance, or aggression. After gathering data from the aforementioned areas, the next step involves implementing healthy and effective actions. It is through these new actions that life truly begins to feel different, and a sense of empowerment gradually takes root.

The sheer joy I experience while witnessing my clients make transformative changes is a blessing I encounter frequently in this profession. People often ask me how I manage to avoid becoming disheartened in this line of work. The answer lies in practicing what I preach—I choose not to dwell on the negative aspects but instead revel in the moments of triumph. When a client enters my office burdened by depression, anxiety, or anger, and gradually progresses towards peace and confidence, there is simply nothing like it. I am immensely grateful to be a part of their transformative journey.

In conclusion, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy has become my go-to tool due to its effectiveness in helping clients understand and reshape their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. It brings about positive change and fosters a sense of empowerment that is incredibly rewarding for both the client and myself.

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